Mental health inside and outside the practiceNews
Posted by: The Probe 25th October 2020
To say that the last few months have been a strain on mental health is somewhat of an understatement. The pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s mental health for many reasons, ranging from the period of enforced lockdown, a general feeling of panic over the spread of the virus and simply the change from normality that the pandemic has brought. Add in aspects such as a huge wave of job losses, the inability to see family and friends, and you can see why many people have had a tricky time keeping their mental health in balance.
Indeed, reports from June indicate that 63% of UK individuals felt worried about the effect the pandemic was having on their lives, with over 50% saying that they were experiencing enhanced feelings of anxiety about the situation.[i] Mental health charity Mind also confirmed the worst, revealing in an article that the majority of the UK population has experienced a big hit to their mental health during the pandemic, and that the situation is likely to get worse as people process the changes the last few months have brought.[ii]
Usually, when focusing on mental health we tend to look towards the needs of patients and how to ensure that they are receiving the help they need. However, we should also be focusing on the mental health of the dental team, and how to ensure that individuals inside the profession are coping well.
Mental health is, by nature, exceedingly individual. Due to the vast complexity of human experience, emotions, personalities and other factors, no two people are likely to feel exactly the same. However, it is important to create an environment where mental health is less likely to suffer.
Anyone working in practice will know that a lot of the changes introduced due to the pandemic have created a sometimes terse and very high-pressure environment. It’s difficult to ensure that you are providing the best possible care when you’re feeling run down, so it’s vital that professionals but self care on their priority list.
Have you considered taking up activities proven to boost mental health such as exercise? Even a walk after work may have a positive impact, leaving you better prepared to face whatever challenges are thrown your way. Another good option is to ensure that you are providing appropriate self care at home. Balancing work and family responsibilities isn’t easy, so communication is a great factor here to ensure that you are having the down time and chance to recuperate that you deserve. It’s also a good idea to research charities that can give mental health information and support – Mind is a particularly good option as they are able to support you no matter what you are experiencing and have plenty of useful resources available.
In practice, one great way to help prevent the strain from becoming too much is to suggest team meetings and other opportunities for people to voice their concerns. These talks allow everyone to be on the same page with their mental health, and can quickly identify who is struggling and needs some extra support. By acting as a unified unit in this way, it’s far more likely that the dental team can operate better together and overcome the challenges without putting too much stress on any particular individual.
In the end, mental health is something that we all need to keep in focus right now. With the situation constantly changing and new challenges needing to be overcome, it’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed. However, by looking for support and supporting others, you can ensure that your patients get the care they need without impacting your own wellbeing.
[i] The Health Foundation. Emerging Evidence on COVID-19’s Impact on Mental Health and Health Inequalities. Link: https://www.health.org.uk/news-and-comment/blogs/emerging-evidence-on-covid-19s-impact-on-mental-health-and-health [Last accessed July 20].
[ii] The Guardian. UK’s Mental health Has Deteriorated During Lockdown, Says Mind. Link: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jun/30/uks-mental-health-has-deteriorated-during-lockdown-says-mind [Last accessed July 20].
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